Tagged: Music

Why I can’t wait for the end of this summer. [Hint: \m/]

If you know me you know that I’m a summer child, that I’m in danger of freezing to death as soon as the temperature drops below 20°C, and usually spend September to April holed up in my blanket fort, raging and ranting about the rain and the snow and the early nights.

But this year, I can’t wait for the autumn and winter months to kick in. Why? Well, there are five reasons. Five reasons of a very rock & roll nature.

5.) The best new folks on the London scene
Acoustic folk may be an unusual choice for me, but from the moment I first heard Morrissey & Marshall play a tune in the back room of a pub in January 2011, I have been completely mesmerised by their music. I knew right then and there that the charismatic duo from Dublin couldn’t be far from headline gigs and a place in the charts – and now they, indeed, seem to be on their way to exactly there with the release of their debut album in early 2013. If you check out the songs for download on their Facebook page, you’ll see why I absolutely cannot wait to hear an album full of their perfect harmonies and thoughtfully uplifting lyrics. My top one to watch for the next year!

Watch this – it’s the best ten minutes you’ll invest in something today.

4.) All’s new in Kamelot
New album, new lead singer, new tour: Big changes in Kamelot Nation. I’ll have to admit I didn’t particularly keep my faith in the two years since singer Roy Khan left amidst much drama – although I’m now rather gutted to have missed the band’s gigs with Fabio Lione of Rhapsody of Fire fame on guest vocals. (Which, in retrospect, seems even more stupid considering that Rhapsody are way up among my favourite bands, too.) But there you go, my punishment to fit the deed. In any case, Kamelot has now found its new king in Seventh Wonder frontman Tommy Karevik. The new album is out in October – the band’s third concept album to be precise, so all the more reason for excitement – followed by a London gig in November. And from what I’ve heard about the new guy so far, the legend of Kamelot is set to live on. I’m defo holding my breath.

Still, let’s keep alive the memory of Roy Kahn, one of the best voices in metal.

3.) An Arctic city break
And while we’re on the subject of favourite bands, Sonata Artica is one I hold so dearly in my heart that I’ll be jetting out to Munich in November to finally catch them live on stage. Admittedly, that’s quite a way to go for a gig. But since the UK has no power metal scene to speak of and consequently most of my bands just don’t wash up on these shores, I have no choice but to go to where my music is being played. I’ve been waiting for years to hear these guys live, and to witness with my own two eyes (and not via a TV screen) the epic solo-battles of keytar and guitar. Besides, the Munich trip has the added benefit that I’ll be headbanging it out with my dad, who is my number one partner in crime when it comes to music anyway.

Let’s watch some epic guitar/keytar battling. Feel free to freak out/jump around.

2.) The Bluesman returns
It’s been fourteen years, and he’s been announcing it for most of this time, but now it’s actually happening: Richie Sambora releases his third solo album, Aftermath of the Lowdown, in September. The first single [YouTube] is already out for download, and while it does sound more commercial and not as soulful as his old stuff, I remain in the hope that this was just the teaser to get pre-orders from all the Bon Jovi fans in, and the rest of the album will be more in the good, old Bluesman tradition. His previous solo albums, Undiscovered Soul and especially Stranger in this Town, are among my very favourite music of all time, so I’m really rather excited about this. Which brings us straight to…

1.) …and he’s coming to town!!!
Not only is Richie Sambora going on tour with his new album and sans Bon Jovi, but he’s stopping by in my town. Now, if you take into account that this is my all-time musical hero, and I have never had a chance to see the Bluesman live, and have been waiting for the opportunity for the past twelve years, you can probably see why this is simply the best thing that will happen this year.

And while we wait, let’s chill with some vintage Bluesman stuff.

There you go. All my favourite musicians and bands, new albums and gigs all over the place. This is why my freak-out-o-meter will be bursting out the top of the scale constantly for the next five months.

A sad day for Rock

Oh heavens.

It’s Rock Week on The X Factor. Well. Er, “rock” week. So far nobody really seems to have grasped the concept of rock music.

But you know the music industry is in a bad state when a member of Take That tries to explain to a member of N-Dubz what rock is…


…defining it as:

It’s not a pop song with a guitar stuck on it.

I can hear a lot of turning in graves going on right now.

One million reasons to not watch The X Factor vs. the one reason to watch it this year

Under normal circumstances, you wouldn’t find me within a mile of a TV set showing The X Factor or one of its similarly idiotic clones.

I say “under normal circumstances” because, although I passionately despise mass-produced pop music and the artificially made pop stars that generally serve as a vehicle to its producers, with the start of this year’s X Factor series, special circumstances seem to have arisen:

Janet Devlin.

Janet Devlin at her X Factor audition (before that awful makeover where some idiot stylist smoothed out her beautiful hair)

It’s a shame, really, that she’s having to try to get signed via the Simon Cowell machinery which – should she win – will probably land her captivating voice on an album full of soul-less production-line pop songs that will be heard and forgotten as soon as the Christmas sale is over. Because this incredibly talented, elf-like and utterly likeable young woman deserves a career of making her own music and being her own, beautiful self.

I sincerely hope that, no matter what the Cowell Commercialisation Cult churns out this time, Janet will be able to “get there” and be a successful artist on her own terms.

Check out the audition video and you’ll see what I mean.

And due to these special circumstances, I’m now spending my Saturday evenings watching a programme I’d vowed I would never support, and spending 35p a week on text vote.

Well. I’m a sucker for a good voice.

re:View – The 2011 Eurovision live tweet-blogging thing

Last year’s Eurovision live tweet / blog review was mostly a result of watching the final partly out of boredom and partly in protest against a) my granny hanging up on me mid-conversation so she could watch it and b) my general annoyance with the event and everybody being all excited about it. And it turned out to be a lost more fun than I’d thought. Mostly because the entertainment factor was greatly enhanced by the integration of twitter into the viewing experience.

So this year I’m actually quite looking forward to watching the final. (Boyfriend looks less than thrilled.)

And here we go.

Seeing the presenters brings back painful memories of watching TV at home. Anke Engelke (the one in the dress that looks like she slaughtered a flock of swans and then rolled around in their blood-soaked feathers) was pretty much our first successful female comedian on TV. Which was enough for her to become famous, without actually being funny. And Stefan Raab, the butcher-turned-TV presenter who at some point started to consistently write / sing / produce the most appalling music, and yet somehow managed to become incredibly influential in the country’s music scene. The blonde – no clue. But she must be wearing at least twenty rolls of aluminium foil.

Anyway. Here are my thoughts while watching the 25 acts in the final, taken straight from my twitter timeline.

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re:View – 2010 Eurovision live(ish)

I don’t usually watch the Eurovision Song Contest. Why? Let me say it with the words of Jon Bon Jovi, ca. 2003:

Eurovision? Oh, it was amazing. Twenty-seven bad songs.

(Well, probably about as many bad songs as you’ve put out in the last decade, sweetheart.)

But this year I’m watching Eurovision. Why? Mostly because my grandma just ditched me on the phone to go watch Eurovision. And I figured I can’t be less informed than my grandma.

So here’s me watching twenty-seven okay, twenty-five bad songs. Which aren’t even all that bad so far. And since my remote Eurovision viewing company has ditched me, too, I’m having a little Eurovision twitter party all by myself. Like the little twitter slut I am.

And here goes my simultaneous attempt at blogging the whole thing live. Which is already kind of failing as the songs are too short to watch, listen, and tweet about them. I haven’t even got time to grab my coffee from the table across the room. And I need to pee! Whatever happened to commercial breaks?

All right, we just have the pleasure of seeing Spain again (with that performance, I wouldn’t even have noticed something went wrong the first time!) so the live blogging has officially failed. But at least I can catch up now before the, uhm…exciting part starts.

Here’s the Girl with a Pen Eurovision re:View in 140 or less characters, brought to you straight from my twitter timeline:

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WebTV: Orange vs Apple | Trailer of the year | How to lose fans and alienate people

Instead of the Picture of the Week (which, I admit, has become more of a picture of the quarter), let’s do a little round-up of videos that have kept me entertained this week.

1. Comedy: Nerdy Five a Day

Okay, Annoying Orange is a bit pointless and kind of…well, annoying – but trust me, walking down the fruit aisle in your supermarket will never be the same again.


2. Movies: The Oscars are so yesterday (plus I can’t be bothered to blog about them)

Quite simply the smartest and funniest pop culture spoof I’ve seen in a long time.

3. Music: Retirement should be obligatory

I used to have a lot of respect for Meat Loaf’s work, up until he completely missed the point where it would have been appropriate to take a bow and say goodbye to the business (or at least to any attempts at singing live) a couple of years ago. And now along comes this first single from his new album, which seems to promise, above all things, that the story is set to get yet a bit sadder.

Cheesy pop song aside – WTF is this video?
a) A showcase of the latest collection of pimp suits
b) An episode of Scrubs gone very wrong
c) Police Academy 8 (gone equally wrong)
d) A desperate PR stunt aiming for media attention and a week or two in the album top 100

Feel free to throw in your own suggestions.

re:View – Nine (reasons why this much-anticipated film is one big, sad missed chance)

  1. Nine stars Sophia Loren, Judi Dench, Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Kate Hudson, Marion Cotillard, Fergie and Daniel Day-Lewis. That’s about as many grand names as you can fit on a movie poster. (With exception of the upcoming Valentine’s Day, maybe.) And that exactly is its curse, too. Packed with so much fame and talent, it has to be amazing. Otherwise it will just be “hmm, well, bit disapointing, don’t you think?” The missed chance here? Well, let me just say it wasn’t amazing.
  2. Despite the high density of talent, charisma and glamour on the screen, this film manages to be exceptionally bland. And “bland” is by no means a lazy writer’s comment. I’ve tried for the last two hours to come up with an adjective that describes the experience. Nine is definitely not amazing, great, cool, good, decent. But the thing is, it’s so…well, bland, that I can’t even call it bad. It’s just sort of neutral. Like the colours of the iconic Italy it’s trying to bring to life (not very successfully so).
  3. It suffers from a distinct lack of plot. I know, I know – that’s the point. The Maestro doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing when trying to make his new film. But we would also get that without the film itself demonstrating that it doesn’t have a clue as to what it is doing either.
  4. In a way following on from 3., the film is of course based on a musical. And musicals tend to get away with being a bit light on the storyline side, mainly because they’ve got all that singing and dancing and being glamorous and stuff. But there are also things that musicals aren’t very good at, one of them being the subtler notes and the more intimate acting. When a musical gets transformed into film, you’d kind of expect them to make use of the chances offered by the medium (as Chicago and Phantom , for example, have done rather impressively.) Nine just sort or randomly puts people into costumes and makes them burst out into song right in the middle of what otherwise could have been nicely done non-musical scenes.
  5. The characters are exceptionally lifeless. Except for the Maestro (Day-Lewis) maybe, but even in his case you get bored of all the eccentricity and torturedness after the first hour. And the women are basically just assorted puppets:
    • The loving, faithful, silently suffering little wife (Cotillard) loving and suffering so faithfully and silently that it just makes you wanna be sick.
    • The hyper-sexy, naive mistress (Cruz) being so over-the-top pouty and clingy that she’s almost comical – sadly without being the least bit funny.
    • The whore (Fergie) who was apparently the Maestro’s first temptation (and brings us the only really impressive musical number) but somehow remains shockingly unattractive in all her aggressive sexuality and completely loses out on the temptation bit.
    • The muse (Kidman) who’s sort of elusive in a trademark Kidman-esque way, but the film fails to turn that elusiveness into her character’s significance – which means she’s basically just irrelevant.
    • The maternal best friend (Dench) who’s mainly babbling good advice in a maternal best friend sort of style and therefore loses most of the impact she could have had.
    • The late mother, whose absence apparently accounts for the Maestro’s tortured soul and screwed-up love life – but since the film somehow forgets to tell us how and why, she also becomes pretty much irrelevant.
    • And the slutty fashion journalist who’s entirely irrelevant from the start and probably serves the sole purpose of suggesting that fashion journalists generally flash their hold-ups at/hand their hotel keys over to anyone remotely famous.

    (They all look hot in their song and dance outfits though.)

  6. Even though being some of Hollywood’s most worshiped beauties, the women appear flawed. Penelope is a bit wrinkly, Kate looks like her mum, and Fergie’s got some horrendously bad skin and seems to be missing a neck. Now don’t get this wrong. I’m all for real women and a revival of un-Photoshopped magazine covers and stuff. But this is a musical, and in musicals people just have to be shiny and beautiful and perfect and a bit unreal. That’s just, ya know, unwritten musical law. Musicals just aren’t the place for harsh reality and the scolding finger of ethics.
  7. The singing ranges between moderate and awful. Even Fergie’s song (Be Italian), although choreographed and shot beautifully, occasionally wanders along the edge of borderline painful.
  8. Kate Hudson kind of looks like Goldie Hawn. Which is kind of distracting. (Okay, so I was short of one reason for my list.)
  9. And then there’s Sophia Loren. Which, in principle, is tremendous, amazing, wonderful. Except that she’s somehow not really there. And I don’t mean because she’s playing the Maestro’s late mother. It just seems as if they weren’t really sure what to do with her in the film, so she just makes a few random appearances. It’s kind of like they cut out a photo of Sophia Loren and stuck it onto some of the scenes. Which is not only a total waste of Sophia Loren, but also quite a big disappointment when you’ve been looking forward to seeing her in a film for months.

Verdict: Does make you wanna sing and dance though. In your underwear.

Mmmh. Shipper Candy*

Girl With a Pen Obsessions™ presents: The beginning of the greatest love story ever seen on television. In pretty, pretty pictures. And with music.

Just because it’s Friday, and because I just watched the X Files pilot for the eleventeenthousandth time. I actually might have watched it eleventeenthousand-and-two times by now if you count the two screen-capping runs I did for this slide show. And in the process it struck me once again how amazing the chemistry between Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny and their characters is from the first second. Especially when you go back to this one after putting yourself through seasons eight and nine (I still watch it all in original airing order – no fast-forwarding, no skips, like the tough X Phile nut I am) it’s absolutely refreshing and heartwarming to see how it was all there from the start. And to be reminded how good this show once was. Well, not exactly the first couple of episodes. In retrospect, Mulder’s emotional outbursts and Scully’s fearful face are just comic. I mean the cult kind of comic. The Twin Peaks kind, if you like. Which is good after all. And, no, this point is not up for discussion.

I know there’s been X Files stuff posted all over the web for years and years and, as you will see, this is certainly not aiming to be the best fan vid ever made – it’s just a sort of mental note to self about why it is perfectly legitimate to be obsessed with this show.

The song is I’ve Just Seen a Face by the Beatles. I was gonna go for something Mark Snow-y, but this one just kept popping back into my head as I threw the pix together. It might be the result of reading too much fan fic, but to me thist song perfectly brings out the undertones in the episode. Yeah, I know, I know. Our favourite duo are only investigating alien abductions and trying to outnerd each other in physics. But isn’t it oh-so-obvious at least when you’re watching for the eleventeenthousandth time how they keep checking each other out? Intellectually, of course. Like the total geeks they are.

* If this headline mainly reads ‘WTF’ to you, go stand in the corner for one hour, then look it up or, better even, do your homework. Extra work is available for those who like to collect nerd points (nerd level onenerd level two.)